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T H E A U S T I N C H R O N I C L E
JULY 25, 2014
a u s t
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continued on p.44
MUS IC
Austin’s paved over parking spots for its live music paradise.
Take 10th Street, between the frontage road and Red
River. My secret spot: gone. Vanished. Public.
On Fourth, two blocks east of the highway, I
encountered “no parking” signs lining the chain-link
fence as I trolled for parking two Saturday nights ago.
Re-routing southeast avoided steep parking fees and
meter limits. And forget about Comal at Seventh. That
stretch hugging the east end of the state cemetery,
with quick access to the White Horse, Hotel Vegas,
Volstead Lounge, the Eastern, and the Brixton fills by
the afternoon.
“[That’s] the greatest negative impact on bars
Downtown over the past decade,” nods John Wickham,
owner of Elysium – the 13-year-old venue smack-dab in
the middle of the Red River music district – when que-
ried about parking. “From the back-ins along Eighth
Street to the redesign under the highway, which used to
be free, and the demolition of the parking garage across
from Stubb’s.”
Construction, congestion, drunk driving, and Cap
Metro’s early curfews; getting Downtown for live music is
a process now. If you don’t live within walking distance
and want to go out, you drive, you wait, you park, you pay.
Such excursions will only prove hard-
er once former Mayor Will Wynn’s tax
initiative to get 25,000 people living
Downtown
transpires
(revisit
“Downtown’s Tall Order,” June 23,
2006). Now estimated at 40% complete,
expect another 15,000 well before the
decade closes out.
For Holy Mountain partner James
Taylor that’s not soon enough. Paired
with the arrival of boutique, entertain-
ment-conscious hotels like Hotel
Indigo, a chic subsidiary of Inter-
Continental Hotels opening at Wickham’s aforemen-
tioned parking garage next March (check “Playback,”
April 4), Taylor foresees a new era for Red River, one in
which the sidewalks get cleaned up and the music contin-
ues nightly – bars opening earlier to meet demand and
rising rent.
“I can’t wait for hotels to open,” he says. “It means
guests who are living and staying within a walking dis-
tance of my club will come here for happy hours and
shows. The Hotel Indigo, when we met with developers
there, were real clear that the kind of guest staying at their
hotel would be the same kind who would want to go to Holy
Mountain or Mohawk on a weekend night. That’s why
they’re staying there.”
According to Taylor, Holy Mountain and its neighbor-
ing bars – a strong nucleus of clubs integral to the local
music scene, including Beerland, Cheer Up Charlie’s,
Empire Control Room, Red 7, Red Eyed Fly, Mohawk, and
Stubb’s – rely on destination traffic. Orbit venues around
the central business district faced the same reality with
less success. Remember Lovejoys? Skinny’s Ballroom?
How about Antone’s?
Some, like Gregg Ware’s One-2-One Bar, packed up and
moved out of the city center altogether.
“We built a rooftop and everything else, but we wanted to
get out of town because the parking situation was so hor-
rible,” says Ware, whose venue moved two years ago from
its original location at 121 E. Fifth St., where walkers-by
will now find HandleBar. “All the construction down there,
that cost us – I can damn near prove it – $70,000 to $100,000
in one year alone.”
Ware and his wife Destinee now nestle acts like Black
Red Black and Nic Armstrong & the Thieves into a strip
mall on South Lamar, just north of Oltorf.
One-2-One joins a growing list of music venues that have
opened in satellite locations around Austin’s outer regions.
In South Austin, Strange Brew, Sweetwater, and Austin
Beer Garden Brewing Co. (ABGB) have all established them-
selves as viable nighttime options for those looking to find
nearby outlets for music. That same trend’s emerging north
as well, via the Roost and Little Longhorn Saloon on Burnet,
as well as supremely Eastside hangouts like the Skylark
Lounge (revisit “Cold Sweat,” June 13) and the Lost Well.
Each joins established neighborhood spots like the
Spider House Ballroom in the heart of the UT district;
Sahara Lounge, Trailer Space, and Carousel Lounge to the
east; and Whip In and Saxon Pub south as viable options for
those who don’t want to deal with Downtown hassles.
Westsiders, your only options appear to be Donn’s Depot
and the Mean Eyed Cat on West Fifth.
These places have parking and happy-hour shows, mak-
ing it easy for people to flock there after work. One-2-One,
Strange Brew, Sweetwater, and the Roost all sit in strip
malls next to nail salons, kung fu centers, and barber shops.
Not exactly what you’d find in cultural districts.
“We realize there’s a cool factor missing,” says Strange
Brew owner Scott Ward, who converted unused space next
to his 24-hour coffee shop into a listening room two years
ago and now rivals veteran landmarks like the Saxon Pub
for roots rock, songwriters, and homegrown up-and-comers.
“People who come to our venues – places like the Saxon
Pub and One-2-One – are people who
used to go Downtown 20 years ago.
They’re in the older age bracket.
“Now, they don’t want to mess
with it.”
His plans call for changes to the coffee
shop side of his venue so that it promotes
socializing over laptop use during evening
hours. Ward also notes nearby hangout
Radio Coffee & Beer’s presence on
Manchaca and Ben White as a hipper spot
that could eventually help bring more
young concertgoers to Strange Brew.
“People think about East Sixth because there’s a lot of
fun and music,” he says (reacquaint yourself with the first
half of this story, “We Built This City,” February 2, 2012).
“‘We’re going to go to the east side of the freeway.’ You
want to be able to get them in and bounce around.”
The new spot that’s managed to become cool in the eyes
of Austin’s beholders is the ABGB on West Oltorf. Under
partners Amos Lowe, Brian Peters, Mark Jensen, and Curt
and Jill Knobloch, the brewhouse and concert venue has
become a popular destination for the latest iteration of
urban cowboys, who flock to the venue as much for the
music as for its expansive, laid-back atmosphere.
“We’re lucky that we have beer,” says Jensen, who moved
back to Texas after a two-decade advertising stint in New
York. “People come here specifically for it. No one’s going
to One-2-One for the beer they have on tap.”
The place was packed two Fridays ago for Little Mikey &
the Soda Jerks, a country act that should be opening at the
Broken Spoke for Mike & the Moonpies, and Will Cope and
Silas Lowe, songwriters you’d expect at Spider House and
the White Horse. ABGB’s parking lot was full by 7pm.
Like many others, I had to park on nearby Havenside
Drive. There, staked into the grass outside of a house on the
first block, a sign notified patrons that the area will soon
require a residential permit.
“We’ll have to make accommodations,” acknowledges
Jensen of the looming restrictions. “We’ve talked about
shuttling people here. Red’s Porch, they’ve shuttled
people around before. We may have to look at things
like that.”
@AusChronMus ic
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LAMAR
MANCHACA
S. FIRST
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STASSNEY
There Goes the Neighborhood
North/South/Central – redistricting the live music capital
B Y C H A S E H O F F B E R G E R
Construction, congestion,
drunk driving, and Cap
Metro’s early curfews;
getting Downtown for live
music is a process now.
If you don’t live within
walking distance and want
to go out, you drive, you
wait, you park, you pay.
1
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Strange Brew
5326 MANCHACA RD.
2
. T
he Roost
2113 WE LL S BR ANCH PKWY.
3
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Sahara Lounge
1413 WEBBERV I LLE RD.
4
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One-2-One Bar
1509 S . L AMAR #600
5
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The Austin Beer
Garden Brewing Co.
1305 W. OLTORF
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Radio Coffee & Beer
4208 MANCHACA RD.
7
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Sweetwater
730 W. STASSNEY
8
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Carousel Lounge
1110 E . 52ND
9
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Little Longhorn Saloon
5435 BURNET RD.
10
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The Lost Well
2421 WEBBERV I LLE RD.